I’m waiting in the queue at the Crate Brewery Ciderfest, in Hackney Wick. After having arrived early to avoid the crowds and get some ‘work’ done, I found that the place is already full, it’s only half past three and the cider boxes are being depleted. I’ve picked up a pamphlet on Somerset Cider, as a bit of light reading, and have learned that a firkin is a small barrel, a hogshead is a term for 54 gallons, and John Evelyn has confirmed my theory that cider is good for you, having described it as cleansing the stomach, strengthening the digestion and preventing kidney stones. He did write this in 1664, though, a time when if the cider didn’t cure it, leeches would. And if neither of those methods worked, you’d be burned at the stake.
As I near the front of the queue, I scan the boxes to find a new one I haven’t tried. There are many, but my eye catches one called Tricky. That one could be a bit tricky, I think, and try to come up with any other puns on the name. Nope, that’s it. I take a pint of the 6% medium cider. It’s the same thick orange colour as the Hecks Brown Apple like what I just drinked. However, the Tricky has a tart, almost burned taste, much drier. After three sips, my gob is stripped as dry as a pharaoh’s sock. A bit too dry for my sweet tooth. My ciderkick arrives. Bless her, she was on one last night and has made it this far with a hangover. I offer her a sip of Tricky, she describes it as a bit of a shock. Fair enough. Still, it’s 100% Somerset apple cider, will cleanse my stomach and means I won’t have to get the leeches out of the fridge when I get home.
Now the food has run out, pork, beef, big mushrooms, the lot. in addition, the wind is getting up and blowing a chill breeze. Luckily I predicted a breeze blowing down the canal and wore a sensible number of layers. Still cold, though, so we head past the gent’s open-air festi-bogs, into the main building of the Crate Brewery.
The main building is the White Building. So called be cause a) it’s a building, and b) it’s white. It was once a print factory, and is now, apparently, ‘London’s centre for art, technology and sustainability’, as well as being an ‘international beacon for local creative industries’, offers ‘opportunities for emerging and mid-career artists to produce new work on an international platform’, plus various other ambiguous, wordy strap lines. Well, while the creatives upstairs, try to decide what they want to be when they grow up, downstairs, it’s a bar. For drinking booze in. A local beacon for getting lashed and talking shite on an international scale.
We decide to graba pizza too, from the rather eclectic pizza menu, and opt for the truffle pizza which comes covered in grated spuds and then I queue for another cider. Probably the last one of the evening, as my analytical ability is much reduced now, and I realise it would have been wiser to have just had halves. If my memory serves me well, which it rarely does in these situations, the final cider of the day is the Wilkins medium, which is warm and spicy, and more acceptable to my ciderkick.
As the sun is lowering, we sip the cider by the canal boats, finish off the pizza, and decide to head to the offie to purchase some hair of the dog for her other half, who has been having a less than comfortable afternoon. It’s been a successful Cider Sense day. I’m pleased with the Cider Fest, which seemed well organised, well presented and well attended. But i wonder if the cider will last until the advertised time of 1am. From my recent experiences of alcohol-based events, an organiser should never underestimate the amount that Brits will eat and drink in a short space of time.
I hope the Cider Fest will return in the future and I pack up and head off to the the train station, pleased that I didn’t fall in the canal.